Rolling in the Mess and Revelling with the Reverend

By Lucy Edwards

If you haven’t yet face-timed a poetry writing priest, I highly recommend doing so, though if I hand over her phone number I fear I might just end up like that burning bush on the mount.  A marvellous conversationalist with not an odour of strong armed conversion up her sleeve, the university educated Reverend Ruth Wells of Dorset lately, tucked away my youthful Anglican trauma of school assemblies and opened up an adult mind to the healing ideas of a feminist take on theology. The poetry of emotion.

“There’s an expectation on priests to have it all together and it’s why I got into it (poetry), to dismantle all of that”

Rev ruth wells

She likes it messy our Ruth. “There’s an expectation on priests to have it all together and its why I got into it (poetry), to dismantle all of that”. She calls this image “The Pedestal Priest.” She is a crafter of emotive prose, a Chaplin to youth workers and military wives and a listener who lists tea and trash tele as her inspiration for the lyrical road. A mum herself and an open book, Ruth’s poems roll greedily through the muddy waters of sex, vaginas and miscarriage, fallible parenting and credible patronage. Words winding your chest whilst inflating your sails in the next sentence, a breath away from tears; and laughter. Formation her first book and website, Playing with Poetry, are more than an ode to the femininity that is palpably missing in historical and theological teaching. This is real titillation, relatable sensitivity, flawed and funny. Stories she has heard and travelled through. This Chaplin loves to chew the fat.

Get mucky feeling your femininity and accepting “you are enough”

Rev Ruth Wells

Systemic change in the church is her goal and a ball many want in the back of the net. Enough with patriarchal orders, opinions and oppression. Get mucky feeling your femininity and accepting “you are enough” says the good Rev.” Theology should speak to your heart as well as your head. Existensial. Not cerebral. It should speak to all of you”. It sometimes makes people uncomfortable, this accessible solidarity. But if we are to embody a woman in this space, this 2020, we need a feminist Reverend sat right next to us, connecting, communicating and sharing her life experiences. Mother Mary would whoop and holler! Ruth Wells doesn’t just write prose, she draws, she preforms, she takes a place at the table. A table that was once painted as pristine with rigidity and solely proliferated by males and cobbles together a new table. A messy table with a cracked veneer and a safe space to let that down.

Ruth is a performance poet, mother, feminist and priest in the Church of England.  She is based in Dorset and works both in a local parish and also part-time with Bournemouth University and the Arts University Bournemouth as a chaplain. Ruth especially loves listening to people’s stories over a cup of tea, making poetry accessible and watching rubbish tv. Ruth is in residence throughout Take Up Space festival , and will perform on Sunday 8th March .

Big Voices from Little People: Susan McKenna & Hear My Voice

By Lucy Edwards

Daughters of Folkestone. What if we, your peers, councillors, MPs, teachers and guardians, threw down our misconceptions about boisterous young girls and listened to your opinions on climate change and where you want to stand in society? Because it turns out, you have them, in bucket loads.

“People underestimate us because we are girls. They say we’re full on over something so small but its something we are passionate about, we’re in your face,” says Rosa, one of the eleven girls involved in Take Up Space’s Hear My Voice project. And why shouldn’t they be!

People underestimate us because we are girls. They say we’re full on over something so small but its something we are passionate about, we’re in your face,

Rosa

Under the guidance of artist and stealth feminist Susan McKenna, of textile group Fat Hen and Flo, introspective, creative, intelligent Folkestone girls aged 9-12 have met every Saturday for the last couple of weeks to carve out that platform. Constructing a momentous multi-coloured banner to be hung in Steep Street Coffee House, they have created artistic anarchy. “If you want people to hear your voice, you really have to consider what you’re saying and how you are saying it,” McKenna directs the girls. Slogans in bold, black writing such as: “Enable My Power, I’m the Future Respect Me in the Present” and “I’m Trying to Fly Don’t Hold Me Down” are printed on flags stitched together to make the installation, as well as on hoodies the girls intend to wear at the Hear my Voice event as part of Take Up Space 2020.

Susan, a celebrated artist in her own right with Threadbare Woman, and a mother of three, expertly instructs the girls on how to screen print and embroider whilst surreptitiously guiding conversations about boundaries, respect and how to find your voice. Making a safe space for them to express themselves, she acts as a facilitator encouraging talk about what matters to them and how to participate in social change. An enthusiastic textile tactician, Susan is an inspiration and one you feel confident to leave your offspring’s malleable brain with.

“If we want girls to have agency as women we must teach them how, to practice on us.”

Susan Mckenna

“A great way to get involved is to just show up,” says McKenna. “Many young people grow up in families where feminism isn’t discussed, many think that it’s not important any more.” Stitching together a mismatched gaggle of quiet, affirmative, media-aware girls, the group heads to Payers park in Folkestone on March 7 to voice their demands, to shout their intentions and to add gravitas to the political young persons’ movement initiated by Greta Thunberg. Their head hen clucking and corralling, enabling and fluffing the fine feathers of these eagles of the future.

Susan Mckenna

Susan’s creative workshops can be found here

Illustrating the Self- Mother Nurture

Interview with Maike and Kay of On Solid Ground

By Lucy Edwards

Creating imperfect art in a perfectly poignant programme, On Solid Ground encourage new mums to communicate their emotions with colour, craftily and with movement, in a safe inclusive space. Their unifying message is that you are not alone. In this new role or within this reoccurring one, your existence is more than a tambourine for your baby to bang. YOU deserve time to discover how you feel about your body, your identity and vent your sometimes-polarised emotions about where you stand in the world.

In the middle of We and Mum there is I and Kay, Chloe and Maike of Solid Ground encourage new mums to say a big, bold hello their self in their 7-week creative expression workshop; Mother Nurture.

These 3 intelligently educated and fascinating women, all with a mothering string to their bow, chose to pivot and combine their careers in teaching, psychology, fine art and dance and build something new for the already maternally friendly Folkestone social scene. Who doesn’t want to combine hanging with their friends and earning holiday moolah whilst kicking family goals? Right on girls!

Stay true to yourself in a time of transition

on solid ground

Folkestone, the women agree, is about connectivity, community, inclusion and difference. With an attendance incorporating a variety of economic backgrounds from Hythe to Hawkinge, this group has taken up space for women to expand and to explore, to find the centre of their womanly selves and to not be defined by the tasks of primary carer.

As part of this year’s Take Up Space festival they want to capitalise on and magnify the unity of womanhood in 2020 and beyond. It is a woman’s right to sing more than just one tune. Speak your truth and ” stay true to yourself in a time of transition.”

Take Up Space festival commissioned On Solid Ground to run 7 weeks of creative workshops for new mothers in Folkestone from January – March 2020

website www.onsolidground.co.uk

Instagram @osg_arts

One For All Cape by Katrin Albrect

One for all-A cape for many colours

By Lucy Edwards

If clothes could talk, Katrin Albrecht’s installation piece for this years Take Up Space festival, would shout: “Hey girls! Find your voice, stand there in your full glory and say what you have to say.”

Made for all to wear, inclusive of shape and gender, the sheer volume of the iridescent cape demands the wearer to literally take up space. By using bright colours and the subversive feminine connotations of pinks and yellows, this cape is designed to awaken and provoke the female fighter inside. A long standing feminist, Goldsmiths trained Albrecht is inspired to create by revisiting her own struggles to find her way whilst paying homage to craft anarchy; a road artists such as Judy Chicago stitched in the 1970’s.

Say what you want to say in a way that is uncompromised, unapologetic, not ruled by fear or the expectations that are placed on young women or old

Katrin Albrecht

It is what she has been doing since moving to Britain from southern Germany. Asserting her voice on women’s rights, refugees and the environment through sculpture and 2d art- sewing seeds.  The success and chatter surrounding her flags at last years SALT festival broke rules around identity and belief and this openness to change and sense of community is what encouraged her to move south from London. Linking arms instead of knocking elbows is a unique and palpable attitude in the district of Folkestone, one which translates well regarding the impact she hopes this cape will make on the women here.

Drawing together a voice through participation and emotion in motion, she asks every wearer of the cape this year to sign it.

“Say what you want to say in a way that is uncompromised, unapologetic, not ruled by fear or the expectations that are placed on young women or old” Albrecht asserts.

Whoever dons this cape of colours can be the centrepiece for their own message. In draping the women of this year’s festival under its fun and fluid umbrella, she has created a tapestry for us to treasure for years to come.

All in One Cape for Take Up Space festival 2020
This big, flaring cape will take up a lot of space and will transform every woman wearing it into the centrepiece of the room. Ready to be seen and speak out! The lining of the cape will be signed by every participant, speaker or guest of the festival. Together these gathered signatures imprint a shared collective memory of the event into the cape. Designed to fit all body shapes and sizes the All in One Cape will reference Suffragette banners and female body shapes in a contemporary way. 
www.katrinalbrecht.com Instagram @katrin_albrechtee